Unusual. Djet 5: Matra’s first car
René Bonnet is the B of the DB brand (Deutsch-Bonnet). He left his assistant and in 1962 created the Société des automobiles René Bonnet to design and sell the cars he wanted: sports cars for this ex-driver, a well-rounded and excellent mechanic.
In the same year, it introduced the Le Mans convertible and a rather small coupe: the Djet, a prototype road version of the berlinetta for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1000 km of the Nürburgring. This coupe was designed by engineer Marcel Hubert around an engine-gearbox unit placed in a rear central position.
Expensive Djet coupe to produce
The Berlinetta loses its competition-dedicated tubular wheelbase for a chassis-beam that’s easier to manufacture. The coupe measures 3.80m on a 2.40m wheelbase.
The first engine is Renault Gordini 4-cylinder 1108 cm³ 70 hp (in the competition version it was 996 cm³ 90 hp). The cup, polyester monocoque, is produced in Romorantin at the Matra factory. The mid-engine goes inside the cabin and almost touches the back of both seats.
This sleek, wedge-shaped coupe was the world’s first mid-engined production car, hitting the market long before the Lamborghini Miura or Lotus Elise.
The sporty Djet I coupe is not designed for comfort lovers: despite careful insulation, the engine emits a lot of calories into the passenger compartment and is completely involuntary.
The Djet II version gets a choice of 2 actual engines: 1108 cc 80 hp engine with hemispherical cylinder head or 996 cc 82 hp engine on chassis beam. The Djet III uses the mechanicals of the Djet II but on a multi-tube chassis, while the Djet IV has a 996 cc with a multi-tube chassis and twin shafts.
Marketing is poor and only 198 copies are sold. René Bonnet’s car company sinks into the red.
1964, the arrival of the wagon maker
The company, which went bankrupt due to poor sales of the coupe, was bought in 1964 by body manufacturer Matra Sports. Matra continues to design and market versions 5 and 6 under the name Matra-Bonnet.
The body has been modified with a rectangular and enlarged front air intake. Thanks to the extension of the rear suspension by 40 cm, the luggage compartment is larger. The rear wheel arches are enlarged and the rear hatch opens from back to front.
The Djet V is powered by a Renault block with two power ratings: 1108 cc 70 hp for the Djet V and 1108 cc 94 hp with R 8 Gordini hemispherical cylinder head for the Djet V Sport.
In 1966, the Matra-Bonnet Djet VI received 2 R8 Gordini 1.3 liter blocks.e generation and aimed directly at the Alps.
1966, Bonnet disappears
After the dissolution of Automobiles Bonnet in July 1966, the Matra-Bonnet Djet V and Djet VS dropped the Bonnet and Djet names and became the “Matra-Sports Jet 5” and “Matra Sports Jet 6”. “Matra Sports” logo is affixed on the hood and rear face.
The Jet 6 has a 1255 cc block with 105 horsepower and a top speed of 210 km/h. Unlike the Renault, the gearbox retains 4 gears. The luxury version is known for its front bumper, dashboard and steering wheel with wooden wheels.
The introduction of the Matra 530 at the 1967 show would spell the end of the Jet, which reached 271 examples.
A sober end
In 1967 the Jet range evolved modestly with the disappearance of the Jet 5 S. The car didn’t really shine in the competition. However, a very good result on November 12, 1967 should be notede Critérium des Cévennes (664 km): Henri Pescarolo takes the 1.3l Jet to the second step of the podium, less than 7 seconds behind… Alp driven by Gerard Larrousse.
In 1968, before the final closure, only 17 coupés were sold for a total of 1,491 units produced since 1964.